A developer has criticised planners in St Edmundsbury after an error led to an application being approved – without the required consultation.
Barry and Matthew Denny, of Lark Valley Projects, have seen their renovation plans for 31-33 Guildhall Street, Bury St Edmunds, scuppered by three failed planning applications and one appeal.
Reasons for refusal have included conservation and parking demands.
But another scheme in Brentgovel Street has now been approved, despite the Highways Authority not being consulted as required.
Mr Denny said he was ‘gobsmacked’ by the approval which was a ‘complete travesty’ and showed ‘serious planning inconsistencies’ at work.
Responding to his letter of complaint, Steven Wood, the council’s head of planning and growth, said the Highways Authority had confirmed, retrospectively, that it would have recommended refusal of the Brentgovel Street application.
Mr Wood said the basis for refusal would have been the proposed zero car parking provision which ‘would cause undue parking problems and result in congestion in the area and therefore be detrimental to highway safety’.
“We are unable at this stage to rectify this error and therefore the approval will stand,” added Mr Wood.
Mr Denny said: “In any other walk of life there would be a serious inquiry into what went wrong because it does make a huge difference to the town – to the detriment of congestion and highway safety!”
“It seems there’s one rule for us and another rule for everybody else,” he added.
Lark Valley will soon be submitting another application for Guildhall Street, this time for five single bedroom homes – four flats in the tower and a luxury apartment in the lean-to extension beside it – with an L-shaped courtyard for bicycle and bin storage.
Mr Denny said: “I don’t want the Brentgovel Street one to be turned down. I want us to be given sensible advice and the rules to be applied evenly across all applications, either applying them rigidly all the while or using their discretion.”
A council spokesman said: “We look forward to continuing to work with the owner to bring the building at Guildhall Street into use once more.”